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YOU JUST WON A CAZILLION BUCKS
PART 1 of 2

 

 

 

By Jon Christian Ryter

November 7, 2007

NewsWithViews.com

Every day when I check the mail in my cybermailbox I discover that I just won a cazillion bucks—or my non-existent eBay account or PayPal account has been suspended. Or someone tried to make a purchase with my Chase Manhattan or Wells Fargo MasterCard or Visa card. Since I don't have any of those, I know the emails are sent by con men—most likely sitting at computers in Russia, China, Pakistan, Somolia. Nigeria, Israel or Palestine.

What amazes me most is that my email provider does not have a system for reporting con men to them, or an ISP-provided email address to forward attempts to defraud American citizens (complete with all routing information) to the FBI or someone else who can do something more than commiserate with me when I lose my shirt. I get the feeling sometimes that the view in Washington, DC must be that the bureaucrats believe that anyone dumb enough to think they could win a European Union lottery they never entered deserves to be taken.

Not all of the Internet scams are designed to steal your hard-earned cash. Some are aimed at stealing your complete identity so that, armed with your correct name, social security number, and credit card number or bank account number, the identity thief can steal all of your liquid assets, or quadruple your debt as they go on a buying binge in your name—and with your credit cards or checking account..

One e.letter—containing a Citi™ logo (from payments@webmail.com) serves to notify unsuspecting Citibank users that their account has been suspended. However, if the email had come from CitiBank, the email address would have been from @citibank.com. The letter—which does not reference the account holder's name or Citibank account number (which tells you the letter is a fraud), begins:

Dear customer:
Online Banking Access Suspended

This is to inform you that your access to our online banking service has been suspended. This was a result of several multiple sign-in attempts, recently recorded in our security logs. Please restore your online banking access by clicking on the link below. Once you have entered your correct sign-on information, your online access will be reactivated. Click here to reactive your online access.

Richard Searle
Head Online Security Team
Citi Bank

This private and confidential e-mail has been sent to you by Citi Bank plc (reg. no. 106048). Citi Bank, Citi Bank Limited, Citi Bank Life Marketing Group and Citi Bank Unit Trust Managers Limited represent only the Citi Marketing Group, who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority for life assurance, pensions, unit trusts, insurance and regulated mortgages.

Note the word "authorised" in the small print paragraph. The US spelling of the word is "authorized." Clearly, if you don't have an account with CitiBank, you know the email is an attempt to scam you. You throw it away without a second thought. However, if you have a CitiBank account, without thinking, you may click on the link and go to the fake website—and give identity thieves all of the information they need to steal your identity—and your money. And, steal them they will.

The scam letter from identity thieves claiming to be officials from Bank Of America are even more realistic because the web address they ask you to go to appears to be www.bankofamerica.com. However, when you click on the hyperlink in the email, it diverts you to another address that is not Bank of America. And, once again, the data you provide to reactive your account—that has never been inactivated—will be in the hands of an identity thief who will drain every readily available cent you possess within a matter of minutes. Usually at that point, they will sell your personal information to a dozen or more identity thieves who will then sell your identity to illegal aliens or to identity thieves who traffic in using other people's identities to shop online. The Bank of America letter says:

Welcome Member of Bank of America
Due to concerns regarding your recent activities involving your account and the for safety and integrity of the online banking community, we have issued this warning message:

It has come to our attention that your account information needs to be updated due to inactive member status, frauds and/or spoof reports. We will appreciate if you could spend several minutes out of your online experience and renew your records to prevent your account running into future problems or even failure with the online service. However, failure to update your records will result in temporary/permanent account suspension. This notification expires Nov. 4, 2007.

Once you have updated your Internet banking service will not be interrupted and will continue as normal.

Just follow the link below and renew your account information (pictured, Bank of America™ logo)

As noted above, if you received that email and clicked on what looks like Bank of America's address, you would be diverted to another address—like this..(to return to this article, please hit the "return" button after clicking on this hyperlink:) What appears to be one thing on the surface, may be something else completely. The Internet has always been a "buyer beware" media. The correct URL for Bank of America is bankofamerica.com even though you can access it by bankofamerica.com.

The idea with all identity thieves is to have the targeted user of one of the services they include in their arsenal to give them the critical information they need to access their bank accounts, credit cards, or merchant account at PayPal or eBay. Even if the web address appears in the email to be the correct PayPal or eBay URL, you can bet your email will be diverted to a clone website that appears to be the real McCoy although it will be a clone site.

People love getting emails telling them they have overpaid something. Refunds are good—its the American way. But, when you are doing business with companies in the United States, you have to go to them to collect earned refunds—or, you simply get a check in the mail. The following scam letter promises the recipient that they will send that check after the recipient completes a tax refund request form. This is just one more clever way to collect that critical information that will allow the scammer to steal your identity. (Tax refunds, by the way, come from the State or federal government and never from a credit union.)

Dear Customer
Your Debit Card must receive a refund worth 288.40$USD from Co-op Services Credit Union. After the last annual calculations of your account activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $288.44 credit. Please submit a tax refund request and allow us 6-9 days in order to process it. To get your Tax Refund Money please click on this link:

Regards
Co-op Services Credit Union
Customer Service

It's shocking how many people fall for the most ridiculous scam in cyberspace—the lottery windfall. I don't know anyone who hasn't heard the adage: before you can win the lottery you have to buy a ticket. What does that mean? What it doesn't mean is that if you buy a lottery ticket you will win. Quite simply, what it's telling you is that if you don't buy a lottery ticket you can't win.

Lotteries are games of chance—phenomenal chance. It's a hundred-million-to-one long shot. But you still have to buy a ticket to win. You can't win a lottery here, or anywhere in the world, if you don't buy a ticket. And, I hate to burst your bubble on this one, but there is no email lottery with Bill Gates or some other cyber-billionaire kicking in the prize money to reward people for using their email service. I guess the most surprising thing the amount of people who think someone has entered them in a free lottery—when most of them won't go to a neighborhood 7-Eleven and invest a buck in the Powerball or Super Lotto.

And, like the bank information scam, there are as many variations of lottery scams as there are lottery scammers. Throwing in a new BMW doesn't make it more credible. This scam email begins:

The National Lottery
in conjunction with
BMW Automobiles
Congratulations!!!

You have won £500,000.00 in the email raffle draw yearly sweepstakes program. For further development and clearification procedure please contact the personnel with information below. (Letters from official lottery officials can spell "clarification" correctly.)

Contact Mr. Peter Moore
E-mail: petermoore22@sify.com
Telephone - +44-7045724973
Claims Processing Manager

When you respond to the email address, you will be told you have to prepay the taxes—or some other fees—on your winnings. But the "lottery commission," you will be told, will be willing to advance you some of your prize money by certified check—deducted from your winning—to pay those costs. Your check will confirm that you—and not some third party—prepaid the taxes (or the lottery filing fees or whatever nonsense fee they concocted to extort money from you). Of course, their "certified check" will bounce since its as phony as the third Tuesday of the week.

Another scammer, using Google's name, claims to represent the Google International Lottery which, of course, does not exist. This one claims to be tied to your email, and winning emails are drawn at random. This one uses a gimmick to play on your greed to keep the fact that you have been defrauded quiet out of fear that you will lose the €1,000,000 (Euros).

Google Email Lottery International
World Internet Lotto Centre
Eastern Ave 6528
International Promotion/Prize Award Dept.
Promoting Internet Usage Over the Globe (We encourage globalization)

Dear Lucky Winner:
Consolidation Prize: WINNING NOTICE!!!
Congratulations to you as we bring to your notice, the results of the First Category draws of E-MAIL LOTTERY organised by GOOGLE INTERNATIONAL. We are happy to inform you that you have emerged a winner under the First Category, which is part of our promotional draws. The draws were held on 17th October 2007 and results are being officially announced on 2nd of November 2007. Participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from 2,500,000 email addresses of individuals and companies in Africa, America, Asia, Australia, Europe Middle East and Oceania as part of our International Promotions Program. Your email address, attached to ticket number 675432890044/376, with serial number 200-373 drew the lucky numbers 1-0-11-44-3-222 and consequently won in the First Category. You have therefore been awarded a lump sum pay off of One Million Euro (€1,000,000) which is the winning payout for Category A winners.

Your fund is now deposited with the paying bank. In your best interest to avoid a mix-up of numbers and names of any kind, we request that you keep the entire details of your award strictly from public notice until the process of transferring your claims have been completed, and your funds remitted to your account. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming or unscrupulous acts by participants/nonparticipants of this program. Please contact your claims agent immediately for due processing and remittance of your prize money to a designated account of your choice. To file your claim, kindly contact your CLAIMS Agent.

Mrs. Katirinina Papadopulos
Marginlatrust Claims Agency
Tel. 0030-694-409-5741
E-mail: marginlatrust@aim.com

While I received several megabytes of this garbage today, this should be enough to show you what you're missing if you haven't received any of them. What continues to amaze me is that people are actually taken in by this dribble. Even more are the letters from African scam artists who claim to be deposed leader (of the wife of the deposed and/or assassinated leader) of this African nation or that one. These scam artists have picked you out out of 100 million cyberidiots to share their wealth with. But, they are only selecting you because they need to have someone on "the outside" to send their money. Once again, our greed snags us. And, instead of using our brains, we let greed overrule logic and convince ourselves that, at random, these rich people picked us to help them—and share their vast fortunes of stolen loot. For part two click below.

Click here for part -----> 2.

© 2007 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved

[Read "Whatever Happened to America?"]

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Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.

Today, Jon is an advertising executive with the Washington Times. His website, www.jonchristianryter.com has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website.

E-Mail: BAFFauthor@aol.com


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What amazes me most is that my email provider does not have a system for reporting con men to them, or an ISP-provided email address to forward attempts to defraud American citizens (complete with all routing information) to the FBI or someone else who can do something more than commiserate with me when I lose my shirt.